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17 September 2012
The Zabbaleen are descendants of migrant farmers from Upper Egypt who first came to Cairo in the 1940’s in search of employment. They began working in the garbage trade, collecting, sorting and recycling to earn a living. (photo: Dana Smillie)
The September edition of ONE can now be viewed on our website. Give it a look. One of our features this month comes from award-winning journalist, Sarah Topol. Topol profiles a family in Egypt’s Zabbaleen or “garbage people” community:
The Nagib family lives in Manshiyat Naser — also known as Garbage City — an impoverished Coptic Christian neighborhood nestled in the jutting desert cliffs that rise above Cairo’s bustling streets. Called Zabbaleen, or “garbage people” in Arabic, most hail from the rural province of Assiut, 250 miles to the south. For generations, the Zabbaleen have served as Cairo’s de facto garbage collectors, earning a meager living hauling away city dwellers’ trash and recycling anything salvageable.
To spend time with the Nagib family is to witness in microcosm the struggles of an entire class of people — and to realize that they are struggling not just to salvage what others discard, but also to salvage dignity and a way of life.
Mrs. Nagib’s husband collected trash for a living. Now too old to work, he has passed his route on to his children. And it seems, one by one, the Nagib children are carrying on the tradition.
Six days a week, Mrs. Nagib rises before dawn to see off three of her sons to their work as garbage collectors. At 5, the young men will have climbed into the family truck to head down the slopes to the city — a drive that takes two hours. There, they go from apartment to apartment along their route collecting garbage. By early afternoon, they head home, the truck loaded with trash.
For more, read Salvaging Dignity.
14 September 2012
Tags: Egypt Africa ONE magazine
A dance group from Mumbai’s Syro-Malabar Catholic eparchy rehearse a traditional Keralite routine backstage at an annual festival. (photo: Peter Lemieux)
In the January edition of ONE, we featured a story about generations of Thomas Christians from Kerala who have built a community of their own in Mumbai:
“Because the Eparchy of Kalyan was formed exclusively for the Syro-Malabar faithful, a lot of re-evangelization has taken place, meaning people who were on the fringes now started coming forward,” he explains.
“Otherwise, what happens? In the Latin Church, they were unknown. The Latin parish in Vikhroli has 10,000 people and seven Masses every Sunday. Nobody was bothered if they were there or not. But now our parish is very small: a hundred families. We have one liturgy. So if somebody doesn’t come for it, we ask: ‘Where has he gone?’ There’s much more community now that we have the eparchy.”
Mrs. John waits patiently for her husband to finish his thought before speaking. Humble and articulate, she is the perfect blend of the gentility characteristic of rural Kerala and Mumbai’s cosmopolitanism.
“With time, our roots in Kerala have diminished,” she says. “But we still follow all the traditions we learned from our parents. Like when mom passed away, we called everybody over on the 40th day. We follow all the rituals we learned to the core. All the celebrations we do in Kerala are also celebrated here in Mumbai. Basically, we just want to keep our culture alive. We don’t want our kids to lose out on that front — in the home or in the church.”
For more, read A Church of Their Own.
13 September 2012
Tags: India Cultural Identity Kerala Migrants
CNEWA has been a longtime supporter of the Kidane Mehret Children's Home and School in Ethiopia. (photo: Gabriel Delmonaco)
At CNEWA, we understand the importance of investing in children and young people. It’s an investment in a better world. In Ethiopia, much of our work supports schools and child care institutions, such as the Kidane Mehret Children’s Home and School. We have shared many stories about Kidane Mehret, whether it be that of a recent graduate’s gratitude or Msgr. Kozar’s visit there earlier this year.
Interested in helping the children of Ethiopia? Find out more on our website.
12 September 2012
Tags: CNEWA Ethiopia Education Africa Orphans/Orphanages
Staff and patients attend the evening liturgy at the Amala Hospital chapel in Trichur, Kerala. (photo: Peter Lemieux)
In the September 2011 edition of ONE, Peter Lemieux reported on the role the Syro–Malabar Catholic Church plays in India’s health care system:
For the next 15 minutes, the priest rushes through the multistory facility, distributing Communion to more than 30 patients in various wards. “Here, prayer is so much a part of the culture,” explains Father Paul. “But in a hospital setting, it’s a very fast pace. If you don’t deliver things in time, it’s a problem. Time is critical. If we’re delayed for even a minute, lives are threatened.”
Established in 1978 by the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate — the first and largest religious congregation for men in the Syro–Malabar Catholic Church — the institution consists of a full–service general hospital, a homeopathic hospital, a 100–bed ayurvedic (or traditional Indian medicine) hospital, a cancer research center, a cardiac center as well as a medical school and a nursing college.
The facility offers diagnostic treatment in almost every specialization and boasts the latest medical equipment and information technology, 25 surgical operating rooms and a state–of–the–art radiology department, which most recently acquired a new linear particle accelerator.
The medical school and nursing college together enroll 1,200 students from all over India. In total, more than 2,000 medical professionals and their families reside on the campus.
For more, read Healing Kerala’s Health Care.
11 September 2012
Tags: Kerala Health Care Syro-Malabar Catholic Church Carmelite Sisters
This boy is a resident of a home for abandoned children in King Mariut, Egypt. The home is run by the priests and sisters of the Institute of the Incarnate Word. (photo: Sean Sprague)
In the May 2009 edition of ONE, we reported on what is referred to as a “City of Charity” or oasis for abandoned, abused or needy children in the village of King Mariut, Egypt:
About a quarter of the children, Father Luis estimates, come from homes where there was serious abuse. Some of the children lived on the streets. Others were forced by their parents to beg for their bread.
But in King Mariut, the children have a chance for a happier, healthier childhood. During the day, they attend St. Aloysius. After classes end, they go home to one of 10 nearby houses run by the priests and sisters of the Institute of the Incarnate Word.
Originally from São Paulo, Brazil, Sister Maria Laudis Gloriae lives and works at one of the larger houses, just down the road from the school. For the 37 girls and 9 boys who live there, it is home. One of the girls — a bright-eyed, curly haired 2-year-old — has lived at the home since the tender age of 2 months. Her parents, both of whom are poor and mentally ill, abandoned her on the doorstep of a rectory in Upper Egypt. The parish priest entrusted the infant to the sisters’ care.
Holding the bouncy child in her arms, Sister Maria explains that parish priests referred many of the children now living in King Mariut.
“Sometimes local priests know the history of the family, know the children and know if there is a problem. There are sisters who travel a lot in Upper Egypt, so the priests know us and know our work.”
The complex of school and houses in King Mariut make up what the priests and sisters of the institute call the City of Charity. According to Father Luis, the mission of the foundation is “to care about those whom no one else cares about.”
For more, read City of Charity.
10 September 2012
Tags: Egypt Children Education Orphans/Orphanages
The Italian Hospital in Kerak, Jordan, is run by the Comboni Sisters. (photo: John E. Kozar)
Here at CNEWA, we are very familiar with the Comboni Sisters and their dedication to the sick. They are involved with institutions we support, such as the Italian Hospital in Kerak, Jordan. Today, the Catholic News Service reported on the tireless work of Sister Giacinta Niboli, a Comboni Sister, in Egypt. She has served Egypt’s sick for the past 60 years:
“We are here to help, we don’t speak about Jesus, but are teaching love through showing mothers to properly care for their children, wash them well, and take care of their eyes,” Sister Giacinta said.
She added that the dust and fine sand of the desert and mountains that surround Nazlet Khater are the source of what she calls the village’s most endemic malady: eye infections. Other common ailments, she said, include stomach illnesses and influenza.
“We used to get a lot of scorpion bites, but those have declined. I also used to deliver babies, but now I send mothers to the hospital in the city of Sohag, 21 miles away,” Sister Giacinta explained.
She quickly added: “Remember, I am almost 85.”
Sister Giacinta said she does not worry about what lies ahead in post-revolution Egypt, where anywhere from an estimated 4 to 12 million Christians live among more than 70 million Muslims.
“I love them all, and they love me,” Sister Giacinta said of the Muslim majority. “They tell me, ‘You are baraka,’” [the Arabic word for a blessing], she said.
For more, read Comboni Sister Nurses Egyptians for 60 Years.
6 September 2012
Tags: Egypt Middle East Jordan Health Care Comboni Sisters
The Boghossian Education Complex and Youth Development Center in Gyumri, Armenia, offer dance classes for orphaned youth. (photo: Nazik Armenakyan)
In the March 2011 issue of ONE we wrote about a center for orphaned youth in Armenia, run by the Armenian Sisters of the Immaculate Conception:
“There are many of us here, but we are all alone in this world,” says Irina, an orphaned 19–year–old now living at a boarding vocational school in Gyumri, Armenia’s second–largest city.
If not for this Youth Development Center, operated by the Armenian Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, Irina might have found herself homeless a second time in her short life. As is the case for orphans in Armenia fortunate enough to have found shelter in an orphanage, Irina was expected to leave — whether or not she had a place to live — at the age of 18.
Irina was not always an orphan. Until the age of 16, she lived with her mother and attended public school. But when her mother died after a short illness, Irina’s world fell apart. Without any family or friends to turn to, the terrified adolescent wandered the streets before authorities finally placed her in an orphanage.
For more, read From Isolation to Opportunity.
5 September 2012
Tags: Sisters Armenia Orphans/Orphanages Eastern Europe Armenian Sisters of the Immaculate Conception
In this photo taken in 2005, Sister Winifred Doherty, a Good Shepherd sister, enjoys lunch with children at The Good Shepherd school in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. (Photo: Sean Sprague)
Back in May, we interviewed Sister Winifred Doherty in the “People” section of the magazine. It was a time of transition; her order, the Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd (or, Good Shepherd Sisters) was suspending its work in Ethiopia, citing dwindling vocations. Sister Winifred spoke with us about the remarkable work the sisters had done over the years.
For more from this interview, read A ‘Good Shepherd’ to Suffering Women.
4 September 2012
Tags: Ethiopia Sisters Education Africa
Coptic Christians grieve during the funeral for seven victims of sectarian violence at Samaan el-Kharaz Church in Cairo, Egypt, last year. Thirteen people died and 140 were wounded in clashes between Christians and Muslims initiated by anger over an arson attack on a church the week before. (photo: CNS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh, Reuters)
In this morning’s “Page One,” we highlighted an essay featured in America Magazine by David Pinault, a professor of religious studies at Santa Clara University. The author described a recent visit to Egypt, his impressions of the country since the “Lotus Revolution,” and the declining number of Copts in Egypt since the onset of conflict. He described a conversation with a Cairo cab driver:
I told him the statistics: in 2011 and 2012, since the revolution’s onset, over 100,000 Copts have fled Egypt. “Well, I’m not going to leave,” Sami insisted. “Christ is testing us. I tell my friends to stay. Christ could end this suffering, this trial, at any time. How will you feel, I tell my friends, if you’re in Canada instead of Egypt when Christ returns?”
I pondered this apocalyptic thought as we skirted Tahrir Square, the scene of recurrent confrontations between demonstrators and Egypt’s military, and passed the blackened ruins of the Institute of Egypt. French scholars had founded the Institute after Napoleon Bonaparte’s invasion in 1798; its archives held centuries-old maps, books and manuscripts — a priceless treasure. But in December 2011, when government forces on nearby rooftops shot at demonstrators in the street, protesters retaliated by throwing firebombs at the soldiers. Some of the projectiles fell short; the resultant fire destroyed most of the building and much of the collection. In January 2012, Sami told me, Muslim and Christian volunteers collaborated in salvaging charred volumes from the ruins.
But what lingered in my mind was the assessment published in the Arabic-language newspaper al-Ahram by the Egyptian poet and commentator Kamal ‘Arafah. He compared the destruction of Cairo’s Napoleonic Institute to the ancient burning of the Library of Alexandria and the Mongols’ obliteration of Baghdad’s learning centers in the 13th century. Labeling Egypt’s fire-bombers “Mongols of chaos,” ‘Arafah added, “I felt pain when I saw in the videos and pictures the cries of Allahu akbar (Allah is great) and La ilaha illa Allah (there is no god except Allah) coming from young men and women while the Institute of Egypt was burning — young men and women who were ignorant of the extent of the loss bleeding from the heart of Egypt.“
When I mentioned ‘Arafah’s commentary to Sami, he said he, too, found disturbing the linkage of religious sloganeering and violence. He returned to what we had been discussing earlier, Salafist persecution of the Copts: “I’m staying. I’m not leaving my country. I’m not going to do what the Salafists want me to do.” He added that in the aftermath of recent attacks on Christian churches, when he and his Coptic friends assemble for prayer, they have the feeling, “We’re ready to be martyrs. We’re ready to be with Christ, to live with Christ.” Not martyrs in any violent sense, he insisted, but in the sense of giving witness.
For more, read Ready To Be Martyrs.
31 August 2012
Tags: Egypt Violence against Christians Africa Coptic Christians
A marching band of special needs young adults welcomed Msgr. Kozar during his visit to the parish of St. Thomas in Kanamala, Kerala, India. (photo: John E. Kozar)
Back in March when Msgr. Kozar visited India, he received such a warm, and often entertaining, welcome from every parish, school or institution he visited. His visit to the parish of St. Thomas in Kanamala was no different:
About an hour later we arrived at the flourishing mountainside parish of St. Thomas, in Kanamala. What an amazing reception: A marching band of beautiful special needs youngsters and young adults, several hundred children, their parents and the elders of the parish, all lined up in a receiving line. There were many huge Indian umbrellas held by the women and hoisted high while twirling them to welcome the three of us. Thomas Varghese, M.L. Thomas and I were swept away by this welcome.
They led us to the beat of the marching band to the church, where we entered to say a prayer, and then on to the humble parish hall, which was packed. The welcoming continued in the form of remarks from Father Matthew, who spoke on behalf of the bishop and expressed profound thanks to CNEWA for the many facets of assistance given to this parish. Then the pastor gave a very emotional welcome to us and also highlighted the many expressions of solidarity from CNEWA from the parish’s beginning. Then came some young people who did some amazing dancing: a combination of intricate classical Indian dances and a little bit of Bollywood. They put their heart and soul into the performance.
For more, read “In the Footsteps of St. Thomas: Riches Among the Poor.”
Tags: India Kerala Msgr. John E. Kozar